To the Editor,

In regards to the letter by Ted Griffith on Feb. 13, I would like to mention a fact that often gets overlooked when people are praising the so-called virtues of GMOs-Genetically Modified Organisms. For those that may not know, genetically modified plants such as corn, soybeans, and others have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. The inserted genes come from species such as bacteria and viruses, which have never been in the human food supply. (Now that I think about it. It begs the question whether you think man can improve on what God has already created- but that, I think, is another debate.)

Unmentioned Fact: Farmers who don’t want to grow GMO crops (as farmers have been doing for thousands of years) face significant burdens. They spend time and extra money to buy non-GMO seeds. To protect their crops they must establish wide buffer zones that take large amounts of land out of production. Some delay their planting 2-3 weeks after their neighbors, to reduce the chance of contamination, which can reduce their yields. Despite their efforts the crops still may become contaminated and they lose sales in organic and non-GMO markets. Why do non-GMO farmers have to bear these costs?

Fact: In 2011, the USDA convened an advisory committee to discuss the issue of “co-existence,” based on the assumption that GMO and non-GMO crops can co-exist in the same area- which has already been proven false. The committee recommended that farmers buy crop insurance to cover the costs of unwanted GMO contamination. Really? So, after all the things these farmers are already doing, the government wants them to buy insurance too? Does it seem like the USDA is protecting the farmers or the huge corporations that push these technologies? Remember, for thousands of years there were no GMOs, chemical herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc... I wonder whether we may have been better off without them. In any case, I believe everyone has the right to farm the way they think best. Best for the soil, best for the environment, best as regarding nutrient dense food, without the crutch of tax payers’ money. (Read government subsidies.)

Individual people should be the ones that drive the market. Now that I think of it- maybe that’s why organic markets have grown over the last number of years. And the great thing about that is, the more it grows the cheaper the food will become.

Back to the USDA. They are now asking for comments from the public on the issue of co-existence. Maybe it’s time to tell them to take steps to prevent contamination and put the costs where they belong! Just a thought. Thank you.

Steven Weihrauch